The proposed deletion of a controversial tax drove over 20 spectators to last night's County Council meeting, spurring both discussion and general approval of a motion set to be voted for on Oct. 6.
Other items had to be discussed first, however, leaving the crowd on the steps of the Clay County Courthouse for about a half hour.
The confirmation of Resolution 8, an edit of Resolution 7, took the floor first, and was quickly given a unanimous "aye" vote. The confirmation, which made establishment of a new brick factory easier, went quickly and without much discussion from either the floor or the Counselors.
Next up was an approval for a $25,000 appropriation from the Clay County Juvenile Center's user fees. The money, which will be used to help some remodeling issues within the center, will be completely drawn from user fees and will not cost taxpayers anything.
Another appropriation, this one for the new jail project, was brought to the floor by County Commissioner President David Parr. Parr requested $60,000, citing need for "attorney fees, bond council, financial matters, surveying, and all of those little things that need to be completed."
"We need people on board for this project as long as we progress," Parr said, "and we want this to be as owner-friendly as possible."
A few other, smaller appropriations were mentioned and passed, including a $15,000 dollar transfer from road equipment to truck repair, before the "big item" came to discussion: Ordinance 10, a movement that, if passed, will give 100% deductions to assessed inventory.
Some argue that the more-less deletion of the Inventory Tax would damage the county's economy, but Parr thinks the exact opposite will happen.
"If we were a heavily-industrialized city, then we'd have to offset the tax, but in Clay County the amount is negotiable," he said.
Losses are estimated to be around $115,000, though most of the tax is actually given to Brazil by the state. With this change, the taxation will be evenly distributed from businesses to taxpaying individuals.
"Any time you restructure a tax, someone's ox is going to get gored," Parr said, "but this is really going to help out in the end."
Several people showed up to back this opinion up, including some farmers and a bevy of car dealers and other citizens.
"With this restructure, we can hang an 'open for business' sign on Brazil," Marty Jaffe, President/CEO of the Brazil Autoplex, said. "Only ten percent of the people in (the meeting room) were car dealers, and everyone that spoke of the plan was supportive. Look at it like this: We can either attract businesses to Brazil or scare them away."
"Business owners distribute their taxes back to their consumers," Councilman Les Harding said. "This is going to help anyone who buys a car. It's not just the car dealer saving cash, it's the buyer."
"There's a common misconception that car dealers are the only people who are going to benefit from this," Parr added. "It really affects a wide spectrum of people."
The tax, which is scheduled to be repealed statewide in 2007, could give an edge to Brazil's economy if removed earlier, supporters say.
"You can seek new businesses that others won't be able to get until 2007," Jaffe said. "There's a reason a lot of businesses have moved to Illinois recently."